VA Tourer Car Profile

VA Tourer

VA Tourer

The VA tourer was announced at the 1936 Motor Show. It was based on the same chassis and engine as the Saloon and Tickford. The SA Tourer bodies were made by Charlesworth, however the VA Tourers were made by Morris Bodies thereby keeping the whole project in-house.

Compared to the Saloon and Tickford bodied VAs, the Tourer might be described, by some, as the poor relation in so far that it had less sophistication in the guise as a four-seater sports car.

It must be remembered that the SVW range, all of which had four seats, was catering to the family man who used to have a two seater sports car and now needed more seating capacity. The VA Tourer retained the sports car feel and yet allowed the family to be accommodated as well.

Sophistication was not the name of the game. To start with, it had a ‘rag top’ and when folded down could be a difficult roof to store until one had tried the exercise quite a number of times and in the process pinched one’s fingers. The side screens, of which there are four, are held in place by slotting them into special groves in the doors and rear quarter panels. They are then secured with single winged chrome nuts. With the screens in position and the hood erected, the fit around the doors can be quite poor leading to wind and rain ingress. When the hood is down the side screens can be left in place or removed and stored in a special area behind the rear seats. Luggage space is pretty much non-existent.

The VA Tourer has only 2 doors, unlike the SA with its 4 doors. This makes access for the rear passengers a little awkward however once inside the seats are comfortable with good legroom.

There were no trafficators provided and when it came for the driver to indicate a change of direction or deceleration the only resort that could be taken was for the driver’s right arm to be extended through the flap in the side screen. Not a very satisfactory arrangement especially as it would end up with only the left hand remaining on the steering wheel and then possibly having to release the steering wheel all together in order to change gear.

VA Tourer - Before

VA Tourer – Before restoration

The VA Tourer is a lighter bodied vehicle than the Saloon or the Tickford and therefore has benefit of better acceleration to the extent that from standing start to 50mph it can be achieved in just under 16 seconds and with the windscreen folded flat it will reach a top speed of over 80mph – something that is an individual feature of the tourer.

The front bucket seats are particularly comfortable and secures the front occupants well – there is no cause for concern when taking tight corners. This experience is enhanced by cart spring suspension backed by good shock absorbers and the Bishops’ worm and peg steering system and gear change with the well positioned lever close to the driver’s left hand. Plenty of room for people with large feet to operate the peddles and it should be mentioned at this point that not only will the car go with great satisfaction but the braking is well up to the job.

The spare wheel, secured by a centrally mounted wheel nut, is positioned on the rear panel that could be considered more acceptable than slotted into the front wing and results in, what some consider, a better balanced vehicle. Under the bonnet is a toolbox that sits astride the scuttle and apart from providing good storage space, features two well-equipped tool trays with pressed rubber profiles for each of the tools.

A contemporary write-up of the VA Tourer by The Motor 6th July 1937 states: “There is an air of refinement throughout the whole car. It is beautifully finished, very well upholstered with good quality leather, and thoroughly equipped. The hood folds and drops into a recess behind the rear seats, the whole of the rear compartment and recessed hood being covered by a tonneau cover. The dashboard, in which the various dials with brass covered surrounds are let into a walnut panel, assumes a rather nautical aspect but one that is pleasing to the eye. Working in conjunction with the speedometer is a Thirtilite giving warning by means of a green light when travelling at about the legal limit. Jackall permanent hydraulic jacks can be fitted.”

Further comment was made that if one wanted to term it a sports model, then it would have to be classed with the new regime of silent sports motoring that is becoming so popular. They liked its road holding, its brakes and general smoothness.

David Washbourne